The Pink Notebook

This notebook has been more important to me than any other notebooks.

3 years ago, I wanted to get myself on a different career path. I loved coding, I loved managing and leading teams, but I was also passionate about working with customers and working with them to define value. I knew I had to become a Product Manager.

With more than 13 years under my belt as a Software Engineer/Engineering Leader, it was a tough thought to think I'd be pivoting away from all the experience I'd accrued in that time. I knew it would be valuable to me as a Product Manager, but it was also an entirely different trajectory than what I'd been on.

I had a lot to learn. I knew I did, but I was said to me rather bluntly by those to whom I'd expressed my goal. Some flat out said: "You're just not a Product Manager - that's not 'You.'"

In an effort to become more intentional with my pivot, I began to read more and more books about Product geared towards Product Managers and business owners. I knew books could teach me a lot, but experience is what I needed - and so I pursued every opportunity I had in my the role I was playing to also act as a more official but still unofficial Product Manager. I'd played the role in varying capacities, but, once again I was trying to be intentional.

I was never one to regularly take notes. I'm sure some may disagree - but for me, the world of Software was mostly white-boarding, occasional diagrams, but never a need for note taking. Even as a Team Lead, Manager and then Director - most of my world existed in various productivity applications. It's not that I never took notes - but my memory is pretty sharp so I'd mostly take notes for things that were low enough in priority I was likely to forget.

But - I knew if I was going to have more open-ended conversations, non-discrete conversations, I knew I should get better at taking notes.

I've never shied from learning in front of my kids. I like them to see me struggle, and persist. And one night, sitting beside my daughter I decided to get a notebook that I'd be motivated to use. I bought a pink one, because it was her favorite color at the time - and I knew by having a bright pink notebook it would attract attention to my intention, but also remind me of its purpose. The first page is a scribble my daughter did for me at the time, which I'd look at whenever I needed the extra boost of encouragement.

I used this notebook whenever I could. As I transitioned from one role to another, as I got my bearings. Almost poetically, as I neared the end of this notebook I landed my first role as a Product Manager - the last few pages filled up quickly as I ramped up.

I'm still learning, and still have plenty of growth to go (it never really ends, of course) but I've reached the end of this notebook. I've already got other notebooks ready to go - but I don't suspect they'll carry the same important as this one has had.


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